Americans Want More Transit-Orientated Development

I say Auckland does too


Transit-Orientated Developments or TODs for short follow the basic premise of a cluster of development (whether single or mixed use) around a Rapid Transit node so that the people going to/from the node are more likely to use mass transit rather than the car. The consequences of this range from both physical and human geography elements including connectivity, productivity and waste gas emissions.

TODs are nothing new and have been around the modern City since the invention of the rail road. They did fall out of favour in the latter half of the 20th Century with the car and motorway but recently the TOD have come back into fashion on the back of the urban and transit rebirth.


One place where Auckland can learn from with Transit Orientated Developments especially when retrofitting our suburbia out (see: Retrofitting for Better Suburbs – Analysis Needed in Auckland) is from the USA.


Americans want more transit-oriented housing

Nearly 73 percent of Americans support changes in land use or zoning regulations to encourage transit oriented development

– Nearly three in four Americans (73 percent) would support changes in land use or zoning regulations in their community that encourage transit-oriented development, according to a new America THINKS national public opinion survey by HNTB Corporation.

The survey, “Transit Oriented Development in America,” found that more than half (55 percent) of Americans so value proximity to public transportation that they are willing to pay more for their mortgage or rent. This is especially true among millennials* who are much more willing to pay more each month than older Americans (70 percent versus 49 percent).

READ: Transit village opens in North Brunswick

The survey also found that the desire to live near public transportation has increased in the last five years among 29 percent of Americans. Millennials again take the lead with 36 percent who want to live near public transportation today more so than in the past five years, versus 25 percent of older Americans.


According to the Transit Oriented Development Institute, such development is a compact and within easy walking distance of transit stations that contains a mix of uses, such as housing, jobs, shops, restaurants and entertainment. They are centred on high quality train systems, which greatly reduce the need for driving and energy consumption by up to 85 percent.


Proximity is key

According to the survey, more than half (51 percent) of Americans agree the availability of good public transportation increases their interest in moving to and living in a particular area.  Among millennials, 57 percent are more likely to base their residence decisions on public transportation availability than older Americans (48 percent).

Similarly, almost half (47 percent) of Americans say being in close proximity to public transportation impacts choices about not only where they live but also where they work and play. This is especially pronounced among millennials (54 percent) versus 44 percent of older Americans.

The survey also found Americans believe numerous benefits result from transit-oriented development.  These include reduced dependency on driving (57 percent); allowing residents to live, work and play in the same area (46 percent); reducing the area’s carbon footprint or negative environmental impact (44 percent); access to better life services and stimulating the local economy (both at 43 percent);  better access between urban and suburban areas (42 percent); access to better entertainment or recreational services (39 percent); access to better jobs (37 percent); and revitalizing urban areas (30 percent)

“Public transportation agencies, as well as state and local governments, are at the front line of responding to these changes. With thoughtful planning and creativity that could include private sector partnerships, they will have the ability to create exciting new opportunities that will enhance peoples’ lives and build new communities for the future,” Sweeney said.




Source and full article:


If we did a survey here of Auckland citizens the results would probably be the same


TOD’s in Auckland would work well with what we have now and in the future when the rapid transit network is expanded. Six of the ten Metropolitan Centres sit on the rail network along with several town centres like Papatoetoe, Manurewa, Glen Innes and Pukekohe. Takapuna is easily reached by bus and Albany is on the end of the Northern Busway. All places I would start with in Brownfield Transit Orientated Developments (so urban renewal) where one can live, work and/or play while being within easy access to a rapid transit line to other parts of the City.

Stations that cover mainly residential areas like most of the mid and outer Western Line and places like Takanini on the Southern Line would be suitable candidates for more intensive residential developments.

As the rapid transit system expands with things like Isthmus Light Rail, the Airport heavy rail Line and the Botany light rail Line other Centres and residential clusters can be renewed under a TOD as well.


With Greenfield it gets a bit more interesting as often future proofing is needed as mass transit often plays catch up in New Zealand rather than being placed ahead (as I do in Cities Skylines).

With the South the idea would be to build the three new rail stations between Papakura and Pukekohe as the new residential and town centre areas are developed in the current Future Urban Zoned area. However, given Auckland and Central Government is very reactive rather than proactive with infrastructure provisions we will need to future proof the developments to allow the later addition of the rapid transit nodes.

Southern Rural Urban Boundary with Future urban zones in yellow
Southern Rural Urban Boundary with Future urban zones in yellow


But in any case Auckland has a long way to go with Transit Orientated Development if we want to promote the physical and human environment as well as lift our flagging productivity up. That does not mean give up though with again the Americans giving a lot of inspiration for us.


Productivity for the 2014 year. Source; Auckland Plan Annual Implementation Update
Productivity for the 2014 year.
Source; Auckland Plan Annual Implementation Update



Manukau Interchange BR Version MK 5 MBTI Final macro version 2.16 annotated The Duo-Gard Sentry cycle lock up and the Cycle Station are the property of Duo-Gard:
Manukau Interchange BR Version MK 5 MBTI Final macro version 2.16 annotated
The Duo-Gard Sentry cycle lock up and the Cycle Station are the property of Duo-Gard:

The above being a Transit Orientated mixed use development for the Manukau Bus Interchange. Auckland Transport ignored 67% of submitters and went for the single use vanity design below:

Concept-design-of-manukau-interchange-building. Source: